Clare SHC Quarter Finals
By Gerry Quinn
Holders Sixmilebridge were sent crashing out of this year’s Clare SHC by neighbours Cratloe at Cusack Park on Saturday, coming out on the wrong side of a 1-19 to 0-16 final scoreline.
An impressive Cratloe outfit led by 0-10 to 0-9 at the halfway stage.
The men in blue began with a point by the industrious Podge Collins inside 20 seconds. The Bridge replied with scores from Brian Corry and Jason Loughnane and by the 10th minute Cratloe held a 0-4 to 0-3 advantage.
Collins added to his opener with two further points, both from acute angles, one from the left and one from the right.
In a tight opening half hour, there was never more than a point between the sides.
Jamie Shanahan landed a 65 for Sixmilebridge early in the second half to level matters.
But Cratloe grabbed the game’s only goal on 38 through corner-forward Rian Considine. That score proved to be the turning point of the game as Cratloe secured their semi-final place with Conor McGrath controlling matters from mid-field.
Kilmaley are also through to the last four, following a 1-21 to 1-8 win over Éire Óg at Cusack Park yesterday.
In a one-sided encounter, the winners held all the aces against the Ennis club, who had to compete without the talents of talisman Shane O’Donnell, who has moved to the US to study at Harvard University.
Kilmaley found themselves three points to the good after five minutes with scores by Michael O’Malley, Michael O’Neill, and Cian Moloney.
Éire Óg did strike back with a goal by full-forward Danny Russell but a more rounded Kilmaley outfit picked off points at will as the half progressed.
An O’Neill goal in injury-time put them in the driving seat and they went in 1-13 to 1-5 ahead at the half-time whistle.
In a forgettable second half, Éire Óg could only manage three points, all from frees by David Reidy as Kilmaley sailed through to the semis, on a quest to win their first title since 2004.
O’Callaghan’s Mills will also be in last four draw.
They reached their first semi-final in 21 years by defeating last year’s runners-up Clooney Quin on a scoreline of 0-17 to 0-14.
Played at Cusack Park on Saturday, the Mills were fully deserving of the victory, exhibiting a much greater hunger than their opponents, who were way too reliant on Peter Duggan to provide scores. The big centre-forward hit nine of his team’s final tally while O’Callaghan’s Mills’ Jacob Loughnane was unerring from frees, firing over seven points.
The teams were level at eight points apiece at the break and in the second half good performances by the likes of Gavin Cooney, substitute Colin Crehan, and Patrick Donnellan helped the East Clare club over the line.
The final quarter-final saw 2016 champions Ballyea pitted against Inagh-Kilnamona at Cusack Park yesterday evening. A Tony Kelly inspired Ballyea took the honours, finishing 1-19 to 0-16 in front at the final whistle.
The opening half was tight with Ballyea leading 0-10 to 0-9 at the interval. Niall Deasy for Ballyea impressed with his free-taking in that first half as did Niall Arthur for opponents Inagh-Kilnamona.
Deasy produced eight of his team’s scores before the break and Arthur fired over four for his side. David Fitzgerald and Arthur once more had early Inagh Kilnamona points after the break to take the lead. But when Deasy pounced for the game’s only goal on 39, he gave Ballyea a 1-13 to 0-12 lead. With Tony Kelly in masterful form at midfield and Deasy on fire at centre-forward, Ballyea’s experience told.
Inagh-Kilnamona never gave up though and were unlucky not to have pulled back at least one goal late in the game, as Arthur had two 20m frees blocked on the goal line.
St Joseph’s Doora Barefield were relegated to intermediate ranks at Tulla on Saturday. They were defeated by Whitegate in a play-off by 1-10 to 0-10. Crusheen and Tulla will contest this year’s Senior B Final. Tulla won their semi-final over Wolfe Tones na Sionna by 0-17 to 0-16, while Crusheen defeated Clarecastle, finishing 1-18 to 1-8 in front.